Whoever made up the saying that you should pick up a penny because it brings you good luck is probably some sort of pro-penny lobbyist trying to get you to care about pennies. Pennies suck.
Canada has set the precedent, just like they always do with currency-related matters. Remember when we started putting colors other than drab green on our bills? Yeah, Canada did it first. Last month, the Canadian Finance Minister announced that our neighbors up north would be minting the last pennies ever this fall.
It’s a direction the United States Treasury should have gone a long time ago. I can’t think of anything that you can buy with a penny. They’re just useless lumps of zinc – and copper plating – that pile up in the little hole in the door of your car. I have eight pennies in my wallet right now, and they’re totally useless. They don’t even work in vending machines.
Ignore the convenience to consumers for a moment. The Canadian Finance Department estimates that stopping the production of pennies would save the country $11 million a year. The American economy would probably benefit similarly. Any amount of money saved is a step forward, especially in today’s shaky economic landscape.
I suppose the primary objection to assassinating Lincoln again would be, “What happens to prices that don’t end with a five or a zero?” Old pennies will still remain in circulation, of course, so they’ll still exist, and we can pay with those. As they pass out of circulation by slowly disappearing in sewer grates, bottoms of purses and your grandma’s change jar, prices can be rounded to the nearest nickel. It’s not like those things are much better.
With the advent of intangible money – credit cards, debit cards, PayPal – coins have become even less useful. You can pay an exact amount without having to fish around in your purse or pocket for the correct coin. Besides, have you ever made a transaction where your change is 99 cents? I have, and I got a dollar back because the guy running the register knows that pennies are stupid.
Call me, cashier guy at Cerv’s. Our hearts are in the same place.
For now, we still have to deal with the copper menace. Though it’s technically illegal to deface currency, I will turn the other cheek if you decide to make a more creative use for those silly little coins. Try gluing them together on a canvas to make a penny picture. For the more 3-D minded, a penny sculpture would be equally awesome.
There’s always the ol’ chemistry trick of cutting a wedge out of the penny, dropping it in hydrochloric acid and then waiting for the zinc in the middle to dissolve so you’re left with a copper shell. All of these things are acceptable uses for pennies.
An unacceptable use is dumping a thousand on the counter for a $10 purchase. The cashier will be mad. Do you know why? Because pennies suck.